Writing requires compassion. Writers not only need to show tenderness for the characters and people they write about but compassion for themselves through the creative process.
As the year comes to a close, perhaps you, too, find yourself frustrated by the state of your manuscript or creative project. I want to be ready, but I know I am not. It doesn’t mean I haven’t put in the work needed to progress, but it hasn’t been enough. That much is clear.
Recently a friend asked me, “What is your writing process? How did you decide to leap from one career to another?”
Initially, my writing process required committing to the voice in my head that said, writing a book is something you have to do. It was a must-do calling. Taking a creative leap requires us to immerse ourselves in something risky and unknown. To commit to the vision that starts as a mere voice in our head.
Once I allowed myself to follow the voice that encouraged me to write, I had to overcome my fear of failing. Self-doubt is powerful. Our insecurities can fuel our internal critic and leave us questioning, Can I do this? Will I fail?
There is a saying that in order to live a creative life you have to give up certainty.
The first few weeks after saying good-bye to my tech career, I found myself uncomfortable. Gone was the frantic schedule that started at 7 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. No longer was I driven by someone else’s agenda on a daily basis.
I began saying yes to every opportunity that came my way. I became more involved in my son’s school, I said yes to a consulting job for a start-up, I started writing for a friend’s blog, and I slowly returned to a novel I had started writing a while ago.
Suddenly I realized my life was as frantic as it had been while I was holding a demanding job. I had to ask myself, What am I doing? What am I so afraid of?
A brief encounter with a woman with cancer recently reminded me to slow down and acknowledge what is before us — even if what we see is hard to accept or comprehend.
It was Sunday morning and I was walking through the Berkeley Rose Garden with my husband and son. I saw a woman sitting on a bench with a journal resting in the palm of her hand. She was wrapped in warm clothing from head to toe, despite the sunny weather.
Her head was bald and her face was pale and sullen. I could tell from afar she was very sick.
Deciding to opt out of your career can mean more than a few sleepless nights.
My decision to step away from my career to spend more time with my son — as well as finish the novel that had occupied the back of my mind for ten years — was a hard decision to make. I was an independent woman, I said to myself and to my husband over and over again. I fretted over the loss of my income and the level of freedom one’s own money provides. Did this mean I had to give up my last-minute shopping sprees every three months when I carved out an hour for myself?
It took three years of infertility and two miscarriages to realize I couldn’t have it all.
Growing up, I was told that I could do anything I set my mind to. I am from the generation of young girls who were encouraged to do well in school and play sports. One of the few pieces of advice my father ever gave me was, “Go to college and don’t get married until you are thirty.”
This coming from a man who was married and had his first child at nineteen and earned his college degree in nine years while working full time.
Like the women in my generation, I was raised to do more, want more, and achieve more. Raised to want, have, and take it all. We are a band of warrior women, “leaning in” and “breaking glass.”